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Felix Anudike-Uzomah says playing for his hometown Chiefs is a ‘dream come true’

Kansas City’s first-round defensive end says he is healthy and ready to show out for his home town.

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

During NFL training camps, players get acclimated to their teams as they prepare their bodies and their minds for the rigors of the upcoming season.

But now that the Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzoma is a member of his hometown team, it means a bit more than that.

“I had to soak it all in at first, because I remember sitting at the stands,” said the 31st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft after Wednesday’s practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “I believe it was 2013, sitting [in] the stands just watching all the guys. And then me actually walking on this grass pad just to come down to camp? It’s a dream come true.

“But at the same time, although I’m in this dream, I have to show for it.”

The former Kansas State star hopes to make the most of his first real practice sessions in a Chiefs’ uniform. During the team’s OTA sessions, he was limited by the right thumb injury he suffered during last year’s Big 12 Championship game. While Anudike-Uzomah says his hand is now 100%, he remembers how difficult it was to watch his new team practice from the sidelines.

“It was very tough — especially since they drafted me to play me right away,” he recalled. “They drafted me in the first round, so all the coaches expected a lot out of me. So it was very hard — very tough — that I [couldn't] do exactly what they want me to do right away. It was just a lot of mental reps [and] a lot of learning the playbook.”

Even with the injury now behind him, Anudike-Uzomah remains focused on learning defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s advanced system — which is particularly aggressive for players in the trenches. Last season, Kansas City’s defensive line was one of the team’s greatest strengths, leading the team to 55 total sacks — which ranked second in the NFL.

Anudike-Uzomah remains confident he’ll get it all down.

“Obviously I’m new — and I’m just learning the playbook now,” he said. “I just need to keep going in the playbook, learning day by day. Ask the coaches [and] ask the vets [for] pointers and stuff like that. We got quite a bit of time — especially [over] the whole camp — so hopefully by then, I’ll have this playbook down.”

While the transition from college to the NFL can be difficult, Anudike-Uzomah’s urgency in his approach to the game should help ease the process — along with some advice he received in a recent conversation with soon-to-be Chiefs Hall of Fame player Dante Hall.

“Basically, he said it was really simple,” recalled Anudike-Uzomah. “‘Honestly, you play football for a reason. Just go out and play; there’s no thought into it, there’s no overthinking it. Just go out there and play — because at the end of the day, this is just a game.’

“So once you just play a game like you did in the Little League — [and] do everything right: eat right, work on your body — everything will just [fall] into place.

“So that’s basically the most simple thing he said — and I’ll take it forever.”

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